Motherhood: The Art of Triage & Planning The Garbage Event


I was talking to my daughter this week and we had one of those conversations that I love. She was telling me about a struggle and immediately the memories of being a young mom came flooding back and we had a good commiserating laugh.

All my dear mothers will understand.

Being a mother prepares you for a 2nd career as a triage nurse or an event planner and here’s how.

Taking out the trash at dinnertime. 

To take out the garbage you must first evaluate the entire situation as a triage nurse would.

Ok, it’s 5pm. You have peeled the potatoes and are holding the skins when you realize there’s no room in the trashcan! Crapola! Emergency!!

Assess the situation:

  1. Can I possibly smash the garbage down anymore? No.
  2. If I lay them on the top will they fall off alerting the baby and dog to investigate? Probably. Then dog will eat them and vomit later causing clean up. Baby will play with them and cry when I take them away requiring a halt in dinner making and requiring me to change directions and plan and delay dinner for an hour or more. What are plans for the evening? Can dinner be delayed? No!
  3. Can I just lay them on the counter or table? No. The ants might come back which will require another Pest Control bill and we have that trip coming up. So, the peels have to go now.
  4. Think back to what was thrown away in the can. Will it leak? Will it be too heavy to pull out of the can? I can’t remember.
  5. Is it worth the risk of dripping garbage juice across the floor which will attract said baby and dog? (Doing probability and percentage equations in my head.) The odds are borderline.
  6. The toddler (who is normally fussy at 5pm) seems to be playing peacefully and facing away from the path of the exiting garbage so he might not even notice I’m gone (laughing in my head because that’s just wishful thinking).
  7. Do I give him his favorite toy to perhaps get more time or will that just make him realize that he’s hungry and then demand to be held and fed? No, leave him alone.
  8. Does he have a dirty diaper? No.
  9. Any small objects, technology, outlets or other dangers around said child? Oh yes, the wire bundle behind the entertainment center. But the child will have to overcome an American Ninja Warrior course to get to it. Evaluating distance and rate of speed of said child to wire bundle gives me a small window of opportunity given that the bag doesn’t break, the husband returned can to it’s place, I don’t have to cram the existing garbage down in the outside can and no neighbors stop me to talk. Risky. But I’m willing to take that risk.
  10. Will he demand to eat in the 3 minutes it will take me to take the trash out? (Quickly assess schedule for eating, napping, bathtime and bedtime.) 3 minutes is fine.
  11. Will I run into any neighbors who will want to talk to me and delay the process? (Quickly assess arrival and departure tables of neighbors.) I think we’re good.
  12. The pot of potatoes is not quite to boiling. I can turn it down for safety but it will delay dinner. Got to prioritize! Safety first!
  13. The dog who will run to the door and try to escape and alert said child to my absence is distracted by licking himself on my throw pillow (which is another crisis that will have to wait. Mental note: wash the throw pillow.) Do I put the dog in another room to keep him from escaping? No, that will just alert child to a change in events setting off another chain of events. I think I can beat the dog to the door.

Even with the risks and chances of success being low, I need to get these potato skins out of my hands. Taking the garbage out is a go people!

Now comes the event planning. 

You have to strategically organize, coordinate and execute the plan.

Coordinate steps in the plan:

  1. Pull bag out of can.
  2. Bolt toward door as fast as possible.
  3. Throw bag in can.
  4. Return

Double check for safety:

  1. Distracted child? Check.
  2. Licking dog? Check.
  3. Boiling potatoes? Not quite. Turn them down to be safe. (Delays dinner, dang I’m hungry!)
  4. Doors unlocked? Check.
  5. Hear any neighbors outside? No, think we’re good. Check.
  6. Is outside can by the house? Yes.
  7. Sniff. Dirty diaper? Still no.

Execute plan now! Go! Go! Go!

Pulling the bag out of the can and bolting toward the door alerts the dog who almost knocks me off my feet as it squeezes between my ankles and the door frame. No matter how much I try to trap it in the doorway with my calves it manages to slither by like a greased snake. My yelling it’s name as I toddle to the can with the overflowing bag holding it out so as not to get the garbage juice on me seems to only propel the dog further down the street. It’s frantic barking and running at being freed scares small children and brings thoughts of rabies into the minds of their parents. Is it up to date on it’s shots? How much will that cost?

At the can, I set the bag down on my foot getting juice on my shoe – can it go in the laundry that is in process now? No! Gross! It needs serious sterilization! I cringe as I feel the juice seeping onto my toes. I open the lid and the lack of weight in the empty can causes the can to topple back. I have to set the bag on the ground and it falls over dumping eggs shells and potato peels on the ground. I set the can back up and pick up the debris all the while my neighbor is yelling, “Your dog is out!” Like I don’t know that.

Leaving the dog to his fate I hurriedly limp back in (because of the garbage juice on my foot) and find the child has crawled through the juice that was trailed along the living room floor directly for the wire bundle but was halted as his body has been wedged between the chair leg and the wall and is crying as he is straining for the wire bundle. Is the child in pain or just angry at having his plan thwarted? Just angry. I must quickly determine if the chair will hold the straining child from electrocution long enough for me to wash the salmonella, botulism, and Lord knows what else off my hands and my right foot.

Seeing the chair give way to my child’s determination and stubbornness that he must get from his father and since the child already has garbage juice on him I kick off my contaminated shoe toward the bedroom door and pick him up and take him directly to the bathtub but not before I stop by the kitchen to turn off the potatoes that are now boiling over onto the stove top which will require sandblasting to get the potato foam off. In the effort to keep the child from the boiling pot as he strains with every ounce of energy in his minute body toward it,  the garbage juice gets smeared all over both of us now. Pulling him away from the scalding steam inflames his stubborn streak and that combined with hunger sets off wailing that wakes the dead.

In the bathtub the running water thankfully distracts the sobbing child. I take off my slime covered shirt and with a disintegrating dab of toilet paper clean my right foot. I only sit on the toilet for a split second before there’s a knock on the door. In only my bra and my child in the tub, I decide to just let them knock. They continue undeterred. They hammer! They’re tearing down my door! I grab a towel and wrap up the baby who begins to cry again from being taken away from the water that distracted it. With the banging on the door echoing through the house, I run like a kidnapper clutching her screaming victim, avoiding windows and doors so as not to be seen half dressed and fling myself into my bedroom. I toss the naked child on the bed and grab a tshirt from the dirty clothes pile, scoop the naked child back up and go to the door. My neighbor thinking he has done me a favor, with a smile, holds my dog out to me and says, “I think your dog rolled in something, he smells.”

With the naked baby dangling from my arms I reach down, grab the dog’s collar and choke out a “thank you” to the neighbor. I close the door with my shoeless foot as he is telling me about how I need to better keep control of my dog and other helpful pet owner tips.

Limping and struggling like the Hunchback of Notre Dame I keep hold of the dog’s collar and with dangling child walk the dog to the back door so that it doesn’t touch any furniture or rugs or anything that will require a cleaning episode later and shove it in the back yard.

Back in the bathroom, child playing happily in the water, I sit on the toilet to catch my breath. I hear the husband come in. “I’m in the bathroom” I wheeze. The husband looks at my frazzled appearance. “Are you ok?” I can’t speak. The child coos and laughs at the father as if the last 15 minutes of hell never happened.

Husband says, “When will dinner be ready? We have that thing tonight, remember?”

Don’t even.

Happy Mother’s Day. Just know there is someone out here who understands!

Love and Peace,






3 thoughts on “Motherhood: The Art of Triage & Planning The Garbage Event

  1. Haha!! I got exhausted reading this! We’ve all been there. I’m just glad God gives us children when we’re young.

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